mma and cardio

Why Cardio Is So Important for MMA Fighters? (Explained)

Why do MMA fighters do so much cardio? That is simply because the better endurance you have, the longer you can last in the ring without fatigue. If you are out of breath in the first minute of a fight, the outcome of the fight doesn’t look very bright for you.

Cardio training is essential for MMA fighters if you ever wish to compete. Even with decent fighting skills, they become useless, if you have no stamina to use those skills.

The main reason MMA fighters do so much cardio is simply to last longer in a fight. Being able to keep fighting even after minutes of dodging and throwing punches or fighting on the ground.

Comparing an MMA fighter with excellent technique, but very little endurance, to someone with decent skills but excellent endurance, the winner is the latter in most cases.

The latter should only drain the energy from their opponent, then finish them off as they have been exhausted.

How often do MMA fighters do cardio?

Professional MMA fighters do cardio almost every day, in some cases even multiple times a day. They also do cardio for longer periods, than average MMA hobbyists.

That’s because they get paid to do so. Professionals get paid to fight. They don’t have a regular day job to attend to, their job is to fight and get better at fighting.

However, that is a very small minority of MMA fighters, who actually get paid enough to live from fighting. Therefore, training and doing cardio every day or even multiple times a day is not necessary for everybody.

Doing cardio, as a casual MMA hobbyist, even once a week could be enough. Once a week is still a lot better, than zero times a week.

Even though the best amount of cardio could be somewhere between two and three times per week, depending on how often you train MMA, once a week can and will still have a huge difference.

In times when I had a strict schedule, I went for a jog once a week. Even though once a week is not much, I noticed a huge improvement in my overall condition and endurance.

Start with small steps. Make it a regular habit, and you are more likely to stick to it. Once a week is great, compared to doing no cardio at all.

This applies to all martial arts, and even if you are not training martial arts, cardio will still have benefits for you, no doubt. If you are interested in starting martial arts, I have a lot of information about BJJ, MMA, and boxing in my site. Check them out!

Different ways to do cardio for MMA fighters

There are a ton of ways to do cardio as an MMA fighter. Some of these can be applied to any cardio training, others have more benefits for martial arts. Let’s look at some examples.

Going for a jog. Jogging is one of the simplest ways to train your endurance as an MMA fighter. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air and explore the outside with new jogging routes.

Pro-tip for jogging: Go for a jog either very early in the morning or late at night. It is surprisingly calm when there are very few to no people in your way.

Speed bag. Doing some speed bag workouts can improve your endurance, as well as your technique and punching speed. Your eye-hand coordination will also improve over time. On top of that, mastering the art of punching a speed bag looks really cool.


Heavy bag. Punching and/or kicking a heavy bag will improve all three aspects of your fighting. It provides resistance to build up strength, improve your techniques and work as a cardio workout. It is one of the best ways to improve your MMA fighting alone.

Jumping ropes. Jumping ropes also comes with a lot of benefits. It will improve your footwork, speed, and endurance. It’s also really cheap to get one, or you can make your own.

Rope jumping also requires very little space to do. You can do it in your living room, garage, or even outside, depending on the weather.

By building your own MMA gym, you can improve most of the parts of your fighting. More about building a home MMA gym in this post.

Cardio is one of the three components of MMA fighting

MMA fighters’ abilities can be measured in three categories:

  • Technique/skill
  • Strenght
  • Endurance

Cardio will mostly develop the endurance part of your fighting skills, but it can be combined with either of the two aspects as well.

Speedbag or shadowboxing can improve both, your technique and endurance. Shadowboxing, for example, is a very beginner-friendly way to start improving your MMA skills. More about the benefits of shadowboxing in this post.

Strength and technique should not be overlooked either. If one aspect of the three-component of fighting is lagging, it will become a bottleneck for your fighting.

  • Without proper technique, you will get played and baited in a fighting situation.
  • Without enough strength, your techniques and endurance are not as useful.
  • Without endurance, you will not last long and will end up exhausted and beaten.

By figuring out your weakest part, you can further focus on developing that aspect of your fighting. By maintaining a balance between the three aspects of fighting, you can get the most out of your training.

Final thoughts

So, I think we can agree that cardio and endurance are a big part of MMA training as well. Without enough endurance, you will get exhausted in no time.

That is the reason, why MMA fighters do so much cardio. It is one of the three aspects of fighting, along with technique and strength.

More posts about MMA can be found here.

Hopefully this was helpful to you, have a nice day!

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